Chipper Jones hit homeruns number 11 and 12 Thursday night as Braves won 6-0.
Capping a winning series against the San Diego Padres, Chipper Jones and Kris Medlen put on a show for fans at Turner Field Thursday night. Chipper blasted two home runs, his second marking his 2700th career hit, and garnered two curtain calls from thrilled Braves fans. Kris Medlen, content in his place in the rotation, pitched a 5-hit complete game shut out while flashing the leather to maintain that shutout. It was a special night for Atlanta and pulled them within 4 games of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
Game 1 of the series was the first loss for the Braves since initiating “high sock Monday.” It was another tough loss for rookie Mike Minor who was yet again the victim of poor run support. The Padres only put 3 runs on the board against the rookie, but those runs and a run tacked on against the bullpen was enough to get the win on a night when the Braves put 1 run on the board off of 5 hits. The majority of Atlanta’s offense came by way of Michael Bourn and Martin Prado, a common combo this season.
The most consistent pitcher for the Braves this season has been veteran Tim Hudson. When the Braves need a win, he has come through. Tuesday night, fresh off their Monday night loss, Huddy pitched a gem. Seemingly annoyed when Fredi Gonzalez pulled him after back-to-back singles in the 7th inning. Hudson pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing only 2 hits and blanking the Padres. The bullpen was able to finish off Hudson’s gem. Martin Prado continued coming up with the big hits, going 2-for-4 on the night with 3 RBIs. Both he and Uggla hit home runs, Uggla a solo homer and Prado a 3-run blast accounting for his RBIs on the night. The Braves have seen signs of life from Uggla recently. Since August 6th, Uggla has gone 10-for-37 with a .323 batting average, 3 home runs, 3 doubles, 6 walks and 9 RBIs. With the ailing shoulder of Brian McCann, the Braves could really use offense out of Uggla down the stretch.
If the big signing at the trade deadline was supposed to be Ryan Dempster, the Braves got far more out of him snubbing them than they could ever imagine in Paul Maholm. In Maholm’s 3 starts for the Braves, he has pitched 23 innings, given up 14 hits, only allowed 4 runs and struck out 20. In his 3 games, he has held opponents to a .177 batting average. He has a 1.57 ERA with a 2-1 record since being traded to the club. Wednesday night’s performance was yet another brilliant outing. He allowed only 1 run in his 7 innings of dominance against the Padres. Maholm’s outing was backed by the powerful bats of Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla. The Braves had 9 hits, but went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Perhaps the biggest story of the week came from Fredi Gonzalez who announced that the Braves will be going to a 6-man rotation for the next 2 weeks with the return of Tommy Hanson from the DL Friday. After 2 weeks, the Braves will decide which of the 6 (Hudson, Sheets, Maholm, Hanson, Minor and Medlen) pitched the most effectively and are the most healthy and presumably the odd man out will be sent to the bullpen. Medlen’s Thursday night complete game shutout will go a long way to solidifying his place in the 5-man rotation.
One last note: Cory Gearrin has been lights out since returning from Gwinnett. In August, Gearrin’s ERA has been quickly dropping. Gearrin has not allowed an earned run out of the bullpen since returning to the team July 31st. His ERA dropped from 2.45 to 0.79 in that period. He has been a godsend to the bullpen in the wake of Venters’ elbow injury (now healed) and Medlen’s move to the rotation. With a healthy Venters, continued dominance by closer Craig Kimbrel, a steady Gearrin and potentially the return of Peter Moylan, the Braves’ bullpen could lead the team into the postseason.
The line scores from each of the 4 games against the Padres:
Game 1:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Padres 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 4 12 2 Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 0
W: Stults (3-2) L: Minor (6-9) SV: Thayer (6)
Game 2:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Padres 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 Braves 1 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 x 6 10 0
W: Hudson (12-4) L: Richard (9-12)
Game 3:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Padres 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0 Braves 0 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 x 6 9 0
W: Maholm (11-7) L: Volquez (7-9)
Game 4:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Padres 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1 Braves 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 x 6 10 0
W: Medlen (3-1) L: Marquis (8-10)
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DODGERS ROLL INTO TURNER FIELD…
Friday: Capuano (11-8, 3.11) vs. Hanson (12-5, 4.29)
Saturday: Harang (8-7, 3.76) vs. Sheets (4-2, 2.13)
Sunday: Billingsley (9-9, 3.62) vs. Minor (6-9, 4.93)
The Dodgers arrive at Turner Field for the Civil Rights Game weekend. The CRG will be played Sunday and the game will be showcased on TBS.
Tommy Hanson returns from the disabled list tonight to square off against one of the more unlikely heroes of the Dodgers–Chris Capuano. Tommy has been on the DL since July 30th with a strained lower back. Hanson’s spot in the rotation may very well be up for grabs and he needs to come out strong if he hopes to retain it.
Los Angeles has one of the hottest road records in baseball. The Dodgers have won 5 of their last 7 games, all road games, and they hold a 12-4 road record since the all-star break.
For the Braves to keep up with the Nationals, they will need to a majority of the games from Los Angeles before they begin a series in D.C. against the rival Nats on Monday.
The Braves and Dodgers get underway at 7:35 (EST) tonight.
Before you go, check out the Lineup Card on the BravesWire homepage with headlines from over a dozen Braves news/opinion sources.
Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.
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